The amount of stress and depression among teenagers is alarming. This is due to many factors, including peer pressure, pressure to perform well at school, social media, and hormonal changes. Also, teens are very often working for the first time, trying to juggle school, work, family, social activities and in recent years even navigating a global pandemic! It can be overwhelming to say the least. Two ways to help address these issues are increasing self-acceptance and self-compassion in teens.
Self-acceptance is understanding and recognizing one’s own abilities and limitations. This is where many teenagers have a great deal of difficulty. They feel pressured to look a certain way, perform a certain way, be a certain way. And often when they look around, it seems everyone else is doing it all better than they are. In the process, they never feel comfortable with themselves. A quote from Linda Arnold says, “In each moment you’re either practicing self-acceptance – or you’re judging yourself.”
Self-compassion is being kind and understanding when confronted with personal attempts to manage your world. Teens who show compassion to others may have a difficult time showing that same compassion to themselves. They tend to do a lot of self-blaming and self-shaming instead of comforting and being gentle with themselves.
A lack of self-compassion and self-acceptance can lead to increased stress and possibly depression in teens. It can be a vicious cycle difficult to overcome. The good news is that there are ways teens can increase self-acceptance and self-compassion!
According to Mindful, a recent study by Dr. Brian Galla, from the University of Pittsburgh, found that mindfulness training can decrease stress and increase feelings of well-being in teens. During a 5-day mindfulness retreat, teens learned mindfulness through various exercises including meditation, yoga, and various workshops designated to help them be aware of their feelings while at the same time being gentle with themselves and accepting of those feelings. After the retreat, teens felt less stressed, happier, more self-compassionate and accepting of themselves. The skills learned during the retreat had a lingering affect – still present 3 months after the retreat!
A counselor who teaches mindfulness can be a great resource in guiding teens on the journey to becoming more self-accepting and self-compassionate so that they can make the most of their teenage years. One of our favorite self-compassion and mindfulness workbooks can be found here: Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook. Check it out if you are interested in a self-guided journey toward increased wellness or contact us at Lifeologie Durham to get started with a counselor today! We love mindfulness, self-compassion and helping you love, love, love who you are!
Zakiya Futrell is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate at Lifeologie Durham. Zakiya is one of our counselors who specializes in depression, anxiety and stress as well as working with teens!